The European Commission is awarding nearly €33.5 million to bring more innovative ideas to market quicker. The 17 benefitting projects, involving 80 partners in 19 countries, will receive around €2 million each under the sixth and last round of the €200 million Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) pilot scheme run since January 2015 under the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.
The range of projects include a self-cleaning coating for solar panels, an application to fight Honey Bee Colony Mortality that uses sensors and network connectivity to exchange information, silent ecological rubber pavements, a new type of colorant that will allow to sort black and coloured polymers from mixed waste streams, and a device that analyses one's breath to quickly diagnose whether infections are bacterial or viral. In this last cut-off, more than half of the project participants (55%) are Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Supporting market-creating innovation for growth and job creation is at the core of Horizon 2020. The Fast Track to Innovation pilot has attracted top innovative businesses, giving them a head start in the race to market with a total investment of €200 million in EU funding."
The FTI scheme was launched in January 2015. Since then, 94 projects involving 426 participants from 27 countries were selected to receive €200 million in funding.
This was the last cut-off under the FTI pilot scheme. Based on the results of the Commission's Assessment of the 2015 Response to the FTI pilot call, and its potential to contribute to more market-creating innovation in Europe, the Commission is considering continuing the FTI in 2018-20 as part of the preparatory actions for a potential European Innovation Council.
The FTI pilot is a bottom-up measure promoting innovative activities at the close-to-the-market stage. It supports mature innovative concepts that have already been tested. Supported activities include systems validation in real working conditions, testing, piloting, validation of business models and standard setting and pre-normative research.
The scheme ran during 2015-2016 as a pilot initiative under Horizon 2020, with a budget of €200 million. The scheme was open to all kinds of participants and supports any topic under the “Societal Challenges” and the specific objective “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies (LEITs)”. In order to fast-track projects under the FTI scheme, the time between application and grant agreement signature was capped at six months. Furthermore, the pilot was implemented through one common and continuously open call, meaning that proposals could be submitted at any time.